Monday, October 3, 2011

Banned Books

This weekend was our local library's second annual celebration of banned books.  While librarians projected illustrations from books onto large screens, people from the community read aloud from classic children's stories. 

One gentleman read from a version of "Little Red Riding Hood" challenged because Red was taking alcohol (a bottle of good red wine) to her grandmother.  One woman did a dramatic reading of a scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe--an explicitly Christian-themed book--challenged because of its discussions of mysticism.  Our state senator read from one of my very favorite books from childhood, Norton Jester's The Phantom Tollbooth--which was effectively banned when a librarian in Boulder, Colorado took it off the shelves and stored it in the locked reference collection because the librarian deemed it "poor fantasy."

Many people read picture books--some of which I knew and some which were new to me.  Have any of you seen William Steig's book The Amazing Bone?  The story is utterly random, hysterically charming, and very sweet.  A parent wished to have it excised from public libraries because it features the use of tobacco by animals.

Although most of the readers were adults this year, three young people read as well.  One girl read a favorite scene from Harry Potter and shared her undying passion for the whole series.  Another read from Elizabeth Speare's Sign of the Beaver, a 1984 Newberry Honor book challenged because of its use of the word squaw to refer to an American Indian woman.  My 12yo son read from Katherine Paterson's gorgeous Bridge to Terabithia, a book which has been challenged many times in many places for many reasons.  The section my son read tells what happens when a nonreligious girl goes to church with her friend.  The scene is gently written, extremely respectful of belief and non-belief, but also deeply probing.

The Banned Books Reading was a joyful celebration.  People rolled their eyes at some of the reasons books have been challenged.  In other cases we realized how much fear there is of beliefs and questions different from our own.  I've never heard of this kind of commemoration before but am sure it must be done elsewhere as well.  Does your town or library acknowledge Banned Books Week?  How do you celebrate?

1 comment:

  1. You know, I don't if my local library is doing anything about banned books this year--I assume they are but will have to pay attention on my next visit! I didn't read Bridge to Terabithia until I read it w my kids, but loved it. Fabulous book!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...